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June 16, 2011

This is a post I wrote for my study skills course. The prompt was:
Share your thoughts and experiences concerning discrimination and stereotyping. If you wish, describe an incident in which you were discriminated against or stereotyped by some other individual or group. Or describe a time when you witnessed this happen to someone else. Discuss how the situation might have been handled differently to respect and embrace diversity

My thoughts on discrimination are many. I would like to say that we shouldn’t discriminate, but the reality is that we all do it everyday. How many of us check to make sure our doors are locked while driving through “that part” of town. And “that part” is the same in every city. It’s the place where poor blacks live. Why? Because when you watch a show like cops, or really just about any sort of law enforcement show, these areas of town are perceived as being full of drug dealers and gang members. And you know what? Sometimes, they are. But certainly not all the time. So why do we discriminate? Simple, survival. I mean, if you owned a BMW, would you rather park it in “that part” of town or in the white upper class neighborhood?

Clearly, everyone discriminates. I mean, a girl can’t use a boy’s bathroom, that’s sexism. Yet, we accept that form of discrimination.

It isn’t fair to say “Don’t discriminate.” There is nothing wrong with discriminating. It is defined as “recognition and understanding of the difference between one thing and another.” Discrimination is only bad when it negatively affects those involved. That means that having separate bathrooms for boys and girls is fine, but having separate bathrooms for whites and coloreds is not.

Personally, I haven’t been around much flagrant displays of discrimination. I can not recall a single instance where I felt as though I, or someone around me was being discriminated against in a negative way. I have, however, been to restaurants with Hispanic servers. So, I, not wanting to discriminate, place my order in English, only for them to tell me once I’m done that they didn’t understand a single word I said. Had I gone by stereotyping in those situations I would have placed my order in Spanish and have been on my way.

My point is that while respect is paramount, discrimination is not inherently wrong.

One Comment leave one →
  1. June 17, 2011 12:53 pm

    That is a great way to describe how I feel on the issue. It is important to treat people in the way that they deserve to be treated. If someone acts in a respectful manner, and I try to always assume that everyone will until they show me otherwise, they should be treated in a respectful manner. If someone acts like a fool, they should be treated as such. When my son has friends over, and some of them have their pants hanging halfway down their thighs, I tell them to pull their pants up and stop looking like a fool, regardless of what color or background the kid comes from.

    The issue of discrimination is something that I consider frequently since while I don’t consider myself to be a bigot, I am the way I am because I recognize that most of what makes us who we are is not dependent on our physical form while at the same time I do enjoy the differences that exist. Some of my associates that do not engage in disrespectful discrimination approach the issue of disrespectful discrimination by being color blind, they refuse to see the differences in people. While recognizing that the differences are superficial, I revel in them. I typically am not going to hand sunscreen to my black friends if we’re going somewhere one normally would use sunscreen (yes, blacks do burn, but nothing like a pale face like me). I’m also going to ask them if they have any hair product in their hair before we get into the hot tub (yes, not every dark skinned person uses hair products, and plenty of light skinned people do, but the ratios make my action a good bet). I love the physical traits typical to American blacks, and those typical to a wide variety of other genotypes as well. In the ways that matter, do I treat people differently based on skin color, gender, ethnic background, or other inherent physical traits? No. So yes, I discriminate, but I treat everyone deserving of it with respect.

    The form of racism (which I’ll define as hurtful and inappropriate discrimination based on race) that bewilders me the most is racism against one’s own race. I’ve met people who are significantly less likely to trust those of their own genotype than those of others. Regardless, disrespectful discrimination is a loss, both for those harmed by it and by those that subscribe to it, as they miss out of wonders that the world holds that they keep their eyes closed to.

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